The NFL is still a game centered around power and violence, but speed and agility are becoming more of a weapon as rules legislate away the barbarism that once dominated the game. Player health… or offensive firepower… has become a priority for NFL decision-makers. But who are the fastest NFL players heading into 2023?
It’s impossible to judge players off their top speeds alone because not everyone has the same opportunity to show that. Likewise, not everyone that runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine has perfected the technique associated with it. We’ll look at top speeds, tested speeds, and the speed we perceive visually on tape to come up with a list of the 11 fastest players in the NFL.
The Fastest NFL Player
1) Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
This really shouldn’t be too contested. Tyreek Hill has proven fast on the football field and on the track. Hill’s 10.19 100-meter dash from 2012 is the 942nd fastest of all time. Hill has also run a wind-assisted 9.98, although that time does not count in the record books for outdoor sprints because the wind was too great.
Hill also has the fastest-ever recorded top speed in an NFL game. During his rookie season, Hill hit 23.24 mph, which is nearly enough to get pulled over in a 25 mph zone on a military installation (don’t speed on post, folks).
Hill’s 4.29 feels like a disappointment considering the speed he exhibits on an NFL field. But while that time puts him outside of the top 10, there is no denying his place amongst the game’s most feared speedsters ever.
Hill’s 22.01 mph touchdown reception in Week 5 is currently the fastest recorded ball-carrier speed of 2023.
Fastest NFL Players | 2-11
2) De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins
Mike McDaniel and Chris Grier have put all their chips into the pot on speed, and it’s working incredibly well. The Dolphins’ offense is incredibly potent, and De’Von Achane’s efficiency is otherworldly.
In four games played, Achane is averaging a mind-boggling 12.1 yards per attempt. Additionally, the Texas A&M product has three of the top 10 top speeds for a ball carrier in 2023. He ran an official 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, a 10.14 100-meter dash, and a 20.20 200-meter dash, which each rank inside the top 10 in Aggies’ history.
3) Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins
In 2020, Raheem Mostert held the top two spots in Next Gen Stats’ speed clocking, running 23.09 mph in Week 2 after hitting 22.73 mph the week before. Both plays resulted in 75-plus-yard touchdowns.
Mostert bounced around teams for his first two seasons before finding a home with Kyle Shanahan’s wide zone rushing attack. Although he couldn’t stay healthy for the 49ers throughout his time in San Francisco, he never once averaged fewer than five yards per carry.
Age is the only thing keeping Mostert from placing a spot higher on the list. At 31, it’s likely he’s dropped some horsepower since 2020.
4) Marquise Goodwin, WR, Cleveland Browns
Like Mostert, Marquise Goodwin is only as low as he is on the list because of his advanced age. The 32-year-old WR still possesses overt speed on the field, and his history on the track is well documented.
Goodwin’s 10.43 is significantly slower than Hill’s 10.19 (relative to track athletes), but his 6.69 60-meter dash is only 0.01 slower than Hill’s 6.68. Goodwin also participated in the 2012 Olympic Games as a long jumper. Additionally, his 16.2-yard reception average proves his downfield prowess.
5) Tariq Woolen, CB, Seattle Seahawks
Length is a weapon for defensive backs, but too much length can make it nearly anatomically impossible to be an effective coverage defender at the NFL level. That is why Brandon Browner is the only 6-foot-4 CB with any real success to his name, and that was incredibly short-lived and scheme-specific.
Tariq Woolen is an outlier. Athletically, he shouldn’t really exist. But then again, it’s hard to get too worked up when guys like Montez Sweat are running 4.41 at 260 pounds. Woolen’s length allows him to stride out at great speeds. His 4.26 is tied for the fifth-fastest time ever at the NFL Combine, and his 40-yard INT got him into the top-10 fastest speeds of the 2022 NFL season.
6) KaVontae Turpin, KR, Dallas Cowboys
KaVontae Turpin is very fast. But while Barnes is a straight-line demon, Turpin can dart from point to point without losing momentum, which makes him an incredibly dangerous return man. The USFL MVP was so close on multiple occasions during the NFL season of breaking off the big one, but it never came to fruition.
Listed at only 153 pounds on the roster, Turpin is built like a paper clip on a field flying hammers. But while that weight is a problem for contact balance or regular receiving duties, Turpin’s incredibly adept at running so people can’t hit him squarely on returns.
7) Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants
Jalin Hyatt ran the most disappointing 4.40 in the history of the NFL Combine. It was a peculiar result considering his 1.5 10-yard split landed in the 97th percentile while his 20 and 40-yard splits hovered around the 94th percentile. And yes, that was disappointing.
Because anybody who watched Hyatt play knew he was capable of much, much more. College wide receivers run past safeties and cornerbacks all the time. There are silly coverage gaffes in every game that make it look like a DB is in quicksand. But Hyatt did that to Alabama, and while there were some issues in coverage, his dominance was athletic in nature. He simply has another gear over anyone else he’s shared the field with.
Hyatt’s not a very good receiver at this point. In order to become a reliable target, there’s a lot he must improve upon, even as a more one-dimensional downfield threat. Nevertheless, Hyatt’s speed will immediately help the Giants’ offense situationally because he will occupy safeties downfield and open up the middle for Daniel Jones and the passing attack.
8) Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Christian Watson is another NFL player who plays faster than his timed speed would indicate. A 4.36 certainly isn’t anything to scoff at — especially with an 83rd-percentile vertical jump and a 98th-percentile broad jump — but there are faster-timed speeds all around the league.
Watson’s speed is as dangerous as any player in the league when running across the field. The way he leaves defensive backs grasping for straws as he runs past and away from them can be comical if you’re a Packers fan.
Watson isn’t a great receiver yet, but he and the coaching staff have already found a way to weaponize his pure speed, which is how he’s winning and producing so well despite his current form.
9) Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
Like Hill, but not yet possessing the consistency and above-the-rim ability from his also diminutive frame. Only Hill moves the way Jaylen Waddle can. Teams have tried drafting the “next Tyreek Hill” for years now unsuccessfully, but that’s because no two people move the same way. However, Waddle and Hill are close.
Many players are incredibly agile and fast with the ball in their hands, but they’re point guards. Waddle is like Steph Curry. It’s hard to stick him when he has the ball and when he’s running routes because his fluidity and explosiveness are not one-dimensional.
Unfortunately, Waddle was injured in his final season at Alabama, and he didn’t test. Yet, his 84-yard touchdown from a season ago was the sixth-fastest speed in the NFL last year.
10) DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
DK Metcalf is so close to being the most unfair entity in professional football, but it all feels so far away at the same time. At 230 pounds, it’s absurd that Metcalf ran a 4.33 at the NFL Combine. His ability to effectively stack cornerbacks vertically is innate, and he’s an incredibly powerful force.
Metcalf might shudder at the sign of traffic cones, but his battleship turning radius hasn’t harmed his effectiveness too much. In 2021, he famously chased down Budda Baker at 22.64 mph on an interception.
11) Micah Parsons, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys
Micah Parsons might be the fastest player in the NFL if he’s chasing someone that has the football. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.36 — the fastest time ever for a linebacker. The insane part about his 4.36, however, is that his 10-yard split was a 1.59. That’s only an 88th-percentile mark for a linebacker!
For reference, Jonathan Taylor ran a 4.39 with a 1.54 split. Metcalf’s 4.33 was a 1.48.
That means Parsons got a bad start and still ran faster than any LB ever. And the best way to describe his pursuit is to call it teleportation unless he’s actually learned Goku’s “Instant Transmission” (which Goku learned from the Yardrats).
Fastest NFL Players: Honorable Mentions
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
In 2021, Taylor had the first, fourth, and fifth-fastest speeds of the NFL season. Big holes were opening up, and he was exploding through them at breakneck speeds.
The 230-pounder may not have the lateral quickness of Saquon Barkley, but Taylor’s massive legs produce an outrageous amount of horsepower to propel him in a straight line.
Calijah Kancey, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Imagine a refrigerator barreling toward you down a steep, steep road. That’s pretty much what you get when Calijah Kancey is running at you at full speed. The 281-pound defensive tackle ran an astonishing 4.67 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
He also had a 99th-percentile three-cone. In fact, it was better than Metcalf’s! All in all, 280 pounds shouldn’t move like that.
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Washington Commanders
Edge rushers are getting freakier. At 260 pounds, Sweat ran a 4.41 in the 40. Really think about that for a second. It’s nearly impossible to understand how fast these men are unless you get to see it up close and in person.
You should be distraught imagining a defensive end running a 90th-percentile 40… for a cornerback! On top of all that, Sweat is 6-foot-6 and has nearly 36-inch arms.